#31WBGB: Set Up Monitoring Alerts

#31WGBGWelcome back to another week of 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog!  Our topic for week 10 is setting up alerts to monitor what is happening in our areas of genealogy.  Alerts are useful for both blogging and for genealogy research, so they are a great addition to any geneablogger’s toolbox.

Reasons to Use Alerts

Alerts let you stay on top of what is being said in blogs and in the news about certain topics.  There are quite a few reasons that geneabloggers would want to do this:

  1. Ideas for posts – keeping abreast of what others are writing about can give you lots of ideas for topics.
  2. Tracking research interests – do you have time to read every blog post written to see if it mentions your surnames or locales?  Probably not.  Alerts will scour the internet for mentions of your keyword interests and deliver the results to you.
  3. Managing your reputation and connecting with others – knowing when others are writing about you or your blog can be valuable information.  You can build relationships with those who are saying positive things and also manage any negativity that may emerge.

Alert Services

There are a number of services that will help you keep track of what is being written.  I use Google Alerts and Twitter hastags, but you can also set up Technorati Watchlists and others.

Google Alerts

Google alerts let you set up an automatic search and the results will be delivered to you email inbox or Google Reader as new items are found.  You can limit your search to news, blogs, videos, discussion, or leave it at “everything.”  You decide how often you want to receive updates.  I have alerts set up for some of my surnames (i.e. kendrick+genealogy) and also for genealogy memes that I don’t want to miss (i.e. “Carnival of Genealogy”).

Twitter Hashtags

You can use Twitter hashtags to monitor certain topics.  This is really easy in both Hootsuite and Tweetdeck; create a new stream and search by the hashtag term.  For example, I have a column set up for #31WBGB, so that I don’t miss any tweets related to our challenge.  I also set up temporary columns whenever a genealogy conference is going on that I want to keep up with.

Content Curating Services

Paper.li and Scoop.it are services that let you curate content; i.e.  pull together blog posts, tweets, etc. and compile them into an easy-to-digest newspaper format.  You can tweet and/or facebook out the links when the paper is updated.  Here is a scoop.it paper that I set up for our challenge.

Action Items

  1. Get started monitoring!  Make a list of search topics relevant to your blog and/or research.  Test them out in Google to make sure you get the results you want.  Remember, exact phrases can go in quotes to give you more targeted results.
  2. Set up some alerts.  Let us know what service(s) you used and some of the keywords you chose in the comments.

If you are just joining us, then “welcome.” You can read the kick-off post about 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog here.  Feel free to start with this week’s reading and action items – you are not behind!


The giveaway this week is a Genealogy-at-a-Glance guide to African-American Research.  This four-page laminated guide, written by Michael Hait, “lays out the basic elements of African American research, boiling the subject down to its essence and allowing you to grasp the fundamentals of African American research at a glance.”

To enter for a chance to win the African-American Research guide, leave a comment below with your answers to the questions in Action Item #2 (above).  One winner will be selected randomly. Giveaway ends at 11:59 Eastern time on Saturday, September 10, 2011.

Series Navigation<< #31WBGB: Participate in an Online Genealogy Group#31WBGB: Come Up With 10 Post Ideas >>

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  1. says

    I’ve been using Twitter, Google+ and some individual blogs to stay current, but sometimes the information is spotty. I’ve scheduled tomorrow morning to look into Google Alerts and will report back.

    I’ve been monitoring 31WBGB from the beginning, but I’ve had to deal with (seemingly endless) headaches getting my blog set up. Finally found a great young man in Romania who’s cleaning up some of my messes.

  2. says

    Twitter: michaelhait
    I’ve been using Google Alerts for a few years now, but quite honestly I do not get many hits. Instead, what I now do is schedule periodic searches on Google, and limit the results by date. This will accomplish the same goal with more results.

    But I don’t want to enter the drawing this week – It would be a shame if I won! ;)
    Michael Hait´s last blog post ..Follow Friday: Brain Pickings

  3. says

    So I spent some time toying with Google Alerts this morning. I added a few general alert topics to get used to the process. I think Michael may have a valid point and I suspect I’ll also end up setting up periodic searches for limited time frames.

  4. says

    I’ve been recuperating from a medical procedure for the past week and a half. As a result My post on this week’s task is about weeks 9 and 10 (http://geneapoppop.blogspot.com/2011/09/31wbgb-two-weeks-worth.html). I appreciate Michael’s suggestion and will perhaps move in that direction in the future.

    Please note that Technorati has discontinued its Watchlist service.
    Bart Brenner (GeneaPopPop)´s last blog post ..#31WBGB: Two Weeks Worth

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